Streptopus amplexifolius (Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk)
|Also known as:||Watermelon Berry, White Mandarin, Wild Cucumber|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; rich, moist woods|
|Plant height:||20 to 48 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 or 2 hanging, stalked flowers arising from most leaf axils. Each bell-shaped flower is 1/3 to about ½ inch long and pale greenish-yellow to white with 6 narrow, widely flaring lobes. 6 stamens of unequal lengths and a 3-lobed style are inside the tube. The flowers are typically hidden under the leaves and may go unseen. Flower stalks are up to 2 inches long, wiry and bent or twisted.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are 2 to 6 inches long, 1 to 2½ inches wide, hairless, toothless or minutely serrated around the edges, lance-oblong to narrowly egg-shaped with a sharply pointed tip, several prominent parallel veins, and a heart-shaped base. The underside is pale, covered in a waxy bloom.
The base of the leaf clasps the stem and the basal lobes nearly joined on the other side of the stem. The stem is hairless except sometimes at the base, freely branched, erect in the lower plant with branches widely spreading, and often zig-zags some between the alternately attached leaves.
We spent some years searching for Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk, never quite knowing exactly what the difference was between it and the related Rose Twisted-stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus), and never quite sure which we were encountering in the wild (turned out to be all Rose Twisted-stalk after all). Finally we were pointed to a known population (thanks Otto!) and it was immediately clear. Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk is a much larger plant, more heavily branched, and lacks the fringe of hairs on leaf edges and the hairy stems that are characteristic of Rose Twisted-stalk. The distribution within the state is another clue: Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk is limited to the Arrowhead region, where Rose Twisted-stalk is found across the northern half of the state as well as southern counties bordering Wisconsin. Note that some references list multiple varieties of S. amplexifolius, but these are not recognized in Minnesota.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk plant
- Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk plants
- lower stem is sometimes hairy
- leaf underside covered in a waxy bloom
- twisted stalks
- Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk with Rose Twisted-stalk
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?